A Lower Hutt rest home is asking people to wave to its residents when out for their daily bubble walks.

A staff member at the Bob Scott Retirement Village in Petone posted on Facebook describing how much the elderly residents enjoyed seeing people out for walks together.

"One of our residents said to me tonight that he loves looking out the window watching all the families in their bubbles go past. After talking to a few more of them they said the same thing," she said.

Laurence and Claire Reynolds celebrate Laurence's 105th birthday over Zoom. Photo / Supplied
Laurence and Claire Reynolds celebrate Laurence's 105th birthday over Zoom. Photo / Supplied

"As you all know they're not allowed to see their families and it's heartbreaking. We're their bubble."


She put out a plea asking for anyone walking past the village to give residents "a big wave".

"We have four levels so you will be seen by so many of our residents. Some of them have even put teddies in their windows for the children. It will honestly be the highlight of their day."

Rest home staff around the country are working hard to keep residents' spirits up, with Zoom and Skype parties, group walks and games.

Ryman Healthcare spokesman David King, who shared video with the Herald of Bruce McLaren Village residents applauding the staff for working through the lockdown, said they were doing a lot to keep people engaged.

"This is a really tough time for our residents and their families, not seeing each other is hard, but we know they appreciate that it is the right thing to do," he said.

"We've got hallway exercises - so they can maintain a two metre distance - hallway bingo, we have put in extra devices for Skype and Zoom calls," he said.

"We had a 100-year-old celebrate her birthday with her family on a giant Zoom party."

Zoom parties seem to be the go-to for keeping loved ones connected, with one man in the Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital in Auckland celebrating his 105th birthday over Zoom yesterday.


Laurence Reynolds enjoyed the day with his wife of 74 years by his side, and his family and friends joining in digitally from as far afield as London, Paris, and Jerusalem.

Alexandra Rest Home in Wellington has a "walking club" with up to 17 residents joining for walks as one big bubble, a staff member said.

"Every time I get to work in the morning they're like 'oh, are we going for a walk today?'" said the staff member, who did not want to be named.

"We've been looking at the teddy bears in the windows, it keeps them very amused."

There were obviously no family visits at the moment, she said, but there had been a lot of video calling with loved ones.

The residents were interested in the daily Government updates on coronavirus, but otherwise staff tried to avoid having the TV turned to news.

Staff were doing their best to keep routines normal and continue providing activities such as bingo, bowls, golf, and movies with popcorn.

Bupa Windsor Park Care Home resident Don Mckay video calls with his grandchildren. Photo / Supplied
Bupa Windsor Park Care Home resident Don Mckay video calls with his grandchildren. Photo / Supplied

Meanwhile Enliven was running inter-rest home competitions for colouring-in, dress-up days, and were planning on a baking competition that would be judged on how good the food looked.

Spokeswoman Alisha Kennedy said photos from the competitions would be put on their website.

Bupa spokesman Robert Walker said care homes had been given extra laptops for video calls, which are wiped down after every call.

One home was averaging three or four calls a day on the laptop.

Bupa Windsor Park Care Home resident Don McKay said he liked talking to his family on the tablet and hearing about how life on the farm was going.

Resident Joan Cooke said being able to video-call her daughter on the Gold Coast "keeps the loneliness away" and helped her feel more connected to her family.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website